|Cabell v. Chavez-Salido
[ White ]
[ Blackmun ]
Cabell v. Chavez-Salido
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case, we once again consider a citizenship requirement imposed by a State on those seeking to fill certain governmental offices. California Gov't Code Ann. § 1031(a) (West 1980) requires "public officers or employees declared by law to be peace officers" to be citizens of the United States. California Penal Code Ann. § 830.5 (West Supp.1981) provides that probation officers and deputy probation officers are "peace officers." A three-judge District Court of the Central District of California held the California requirement unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to the appellees, who sought positions as Deputy Probation Officers. 490 F.Supp. 984. [p434]
Appellees were, at the time the complaint was filed, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens living in Los Angeles County, Cal. [n1] Each applied unsuccessfully for positions as Deputy Probation Officers with the Los Angeles County Probation Department. [n2] With respect to two of the three appellees, the parties stipulated that the failure to obtain the positions sought was the result of the statutory citizenship requirement. [n3]
Appellees filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California challenging the constitutionality of the citizenship requirement under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. Named as defendants were certain individual county officials, in their official capacity, and the County of Los Angeles. [n4] [p435]
Appellees alleged unconstitutional discrimination against aliens, impermissible infringement upon their constitutional right to travel, and unconstitutional interference with Congress' plenary power to regulate aliens. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as attorney's fees and damages for two of the plaintiffs. A three-judge court was properly convened. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281 (1970 ed.), 2284. [n5]
In February, 1977, the District Court concluded that the statutory citizenship requirement was unconstitutional both on its face and as applied. Chavez-Salido v. Cabell, 427 F.Supp. 158. That decision rested entirely on appellees' arguments under the Equal Protection Clause; it did not reach the right to travel and federal preemption claims. This Court vacated and remanded that judgment for further consideration in light of Foley v. Connelie, 435 U.S. 291 (1978), which upheld a New York statute requiring state troopers to be United States citizens. County of Los Angeles v. Chavez-Salido, 436 U.S. 901 (1978). On remand, the District Court reconsidered its previous position in light of both Foley, supra, and Ambach v. Norwick, 441 U.S. 68 (1979), [p436] which held that a State may refuse to employ as elementary and secondary school teachers aliens who are eligible for United States citizenship but fail to seek naturalization. With Judge Curtis dissenting, the court found its prior views still valid and convincing. It therefore came to the identical conclusion that the California statutory scheme was constitutionally invalid, both facially and as applied.
We noted probable jurisdiction, 450 U.S. 978 (1981), and now reverse.
Over the years, this Court has many times considered state classifications dealing with aliens. See, e.g., Ambach v. Norwick, supra; Nyquist v. Mauclet, 432 U.S. 1 (1977); Foley v. Connelie, supra; Examining Board v. Flores de Otero, 426 U.S. 572 (1976); In re Griffiths, 413 U.S. 717 (1973); Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634 (1973); Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365 (1971); Takahashi v. Fish & Game Comm'n, 334 U.S. 410 (1948); Crane v. New York, 239 U.S. 195 (1915); Heim v. McCall, 239 U.S. 175 (1915); Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33 (1915); Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886). As we have noted before, those cases "have not formed an unwavering line over the years." Ambach v. Norwick, supra, at 72. But to say that the decisions do not fall into a neat pattern is not to say that they fall into no pattern. In fact, they illustrate a not unusual characteristic of legal development: broad principles are articulated, narrowed when applied to new contexts, and finally replaced when the distinctions they rely upon are no longer tenable.
In Yick Wo v. Hopkins, supra, the Court held both that resident aliens fall within the protection of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that the State could not deny to aliens the right to carry on a "harmless and useful occupation" available to citizens. Although Yick Wo proclaimed that hostility toward aliens was not a permissible [p437] ground for a discriminatory classification, it dealt only with a situation in which government had actively intervened in the sphere of private employment. In a series of later cases, it became clear that Yick Wo did not mean that the State had to be strictly neutral as between aliens and citizens: the Court continued to uphold the right of the State to withhold from aliens public benefits and public resources. Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197 (1923) (ownership of land); Heim v. McCall, supra, (employment on public works projects); Patsone v. Pennsylvania, 232 U.S. 138 (1914) (taking of wild game).
This distinction between government distribution of public resources and intervention in the private market was clearly established as the principle by which state regulations of aliens were to be evaluated in Truax v. Raich, supra, which struck down a state statute requiring all employers of more than five workers to employ "not less than eighty (80) per cent qualified electors or native born citizens of the United States:"
The discrimination defined by the act does not pertain to the regulation or distribution of the public domain, or of the common property or resources of the people of the State, the enjoyment of which may be limited to its citizens as against both aliens and citizens of other States.
Id. at 39-40.
This public/private distinction, the "special public interest" doctrine, see Graham v. Richardson, supra, at 372, 374; Sugarman v. Dougall, supra, at 643, 644, was challenged in Takahashi v. Fish & Game Comm'n, supra, which held that California could not bar lawfully resident aliens from obtaining commercial fishing licenses:
To whatever extent the fish in the three-mile belt off California may be "capable of ownership" by California, we think that "ownership" is inadequate to justify California in excluding any or all aliens who are lawful residents [p438] of the State from making a living by fishing in the ocean off its shores while permitting all others to do so.
Id. at 421. As the principle governing analysis of state classifications of aliens, who are lawful residents, the distinction was further eroded in Graham v. Richardson, supra, which read Takahashi as "cast[ing] doubt on the continuing validity of the special public interest doctrine in all contexts," 403 U.S. at 374, and held that a State could not distinguish between lawfully resident aliens and citizens in the distribution of welfare benefits. Returning to Yick Wo's holding that lawfully present aliens fall within the protection of the Equal Protection Clause, and citing the more recent theory of a two-tiered equal protection scrutiny, Graham implied that there would be very few -- if any -- areas in which a State could legitimately distinguish between its citizens and lawfully resident aliens:
Aliens as a class are a prime example of a "discrete and insular" minority . . . for whom . . . heightened judicial solicitude is appropriate. Accordingly, it was said in Takahashi, 334 U.S. at 420, that "the power of a state to apply its laws exclusively to its alien inhabitants as a class is confined within narrow limits."
403 U.S. at 372.
The cases through Graham dealt for the most part with attempts by the States to retain certain economic benefits exclusively for citizens. Since Graham, the Court has confronted claims distinguishing between the economic and sovereign functions of government. This distinction has been supported by the argument that, although citizenship is not a relevant ground for the distribution of economic benefits, it is a relevant ground for determining membership in the political community.
We recognize a State's interest in establishing its own form of government, and in limiting participation in that government to those who are within "the basic conception of a political community."
Sugarman v. [p439] Dougall, 413 U.S. at 642. While not retreating from the position that restrictions on lawfully resident aliens that primarily affect economic interests are subject to heightened judicial scrutiny, ibid.; In re Griffiths, supra; Examining Board v. Flores de Otero, supra, we have concluded that strict scrutiny is out of place when the restriction primarily serves a political function:
[O]ur scrutiny will not be so demanding where we deal with matters resting firmly within a State's constitutional prerogatives [and] constitutional responsibility for the establishment and operation of its own government, as well as the qualifications of an appropriately designated class of public officeholders.
Sugarman v. Dougall, supra, at 648. We have thus
not abandoned the general principle that some state functions are so bound up with the operation of the State as a governmental entity as to permit the exclusion from those functions of all persons who have not become part of the process of self-government.
Ambach v. Norwick, 441 U.S. at 774. And in those areas the State's exclusion of aliens need not
clear the high hurdle of "strict scrutiny," because [that] would "obliterate all the distinctions between citizens and aliens, and thus depreciate the historic value of citizenship."
Foley v. Connelie, 435 U.S. at 295 (citation omitted). [n6]
The exclusion of aliens from basic governmental processes is not a deficiency in the democratic system, but a necessary consequence of the community's process of political self-definition. Self-government, whether direct or through representatives, begins by defining the scope of the community of the governed, and thus of the governors as well: aliens are, by [p440] definition, those outside of this community. Judicial incursions in this area may interfere with those aspects of democratic self-government that are most essential to it. This distinction between the economic and political functions of government has, therefore, replaced the old public/private distinction. Although this distinction rests on firmer foundations than the old public/private distinction, it may be difficult to apply in particular cases.
Sugarman advised that a claim that a particular restriction on legally resident aliens serves political, and not economic, goals is to be evaluated in a two-step process. First, the specificity of the classification will be examined: a classification that is substantially overinclusive or underinclusive tends to undercut the governmental claim that the classification serves legitimate political ends. The classification in Sugarman itself -- all members of the competitive civil service -- could not support the claim that it was an element in "the State's broad power to define its political community," 413 U.S. at 643, because it indiscriminately swept in menial occupations while leaving out some of the State's most important political functions. Second, even if the classification is sufficiently tailored, it may be applied in the particular case only to "persons holding state elective or important nonelective executive, legislative, and judicial positions," those officers who "participate directly in the formulation, execution, or review of broad public policy," and hence "perform functions that go to the heart of representative government." Id. at 647. [n7] We must therefore inquire whether the
position [p441] in question . . . involves discretionary decisionmaking, or execution of policy, which substantially affect members of the political community.
Foley v. Connelie, supra, at 296.
The restriction at issue in this case passes both of the Sugarman tests.
Appellees argue, and the District Court agreed, that Cal.Gov't Code Ann. § 1031(a) (West 1980), which requires all state "peace officers" to be citizens, is unconstitutionally overinclusive: "Section 1031(a) is void as a law requiring citizenship which ‘sweeps too broadly.'" 490 F.Supp. at 986. [n8] The District Court failed to articulate any standard in reaching this conclusion. Rather, it relied wholly on its belief that, [p442] of the more than 70 positions included within the statutory classification of "peace officer," some undefined number of them "cannot be considered members of the political community no matter how liberally that category is viewed." Id. at 987. The District Court's entire argument on this point consisted of just one sentence:
There appears to be no justification whatever for excluding aliens, even those who have applied for citizenship, from holding public employment as cemetery sextons, furniture and bedding inspectors, livestock identification inspectors, and toll service employees.
Id. at 986. In believing this sufficient, the District Court applied a standard of review far stricter than that approved in Sugarman and later cases.
We need not hold that the District Court was wrong in concluding that citizenship may not be required of toll-service employees, cemetery sextons, and inspectors to hold that the District Court was wrong in striking down the statute on its face. [n9] The District Court assumed that, if the statute was overinclusive at all, it could not stand. This is not the proper standard. Rather, the inquiry is whether the restriction reaches so far and is so broad and haphazard as to belie the State's claim that it is only attempting to ensure that an important function of government be in the hands of those having the "fundamental legal bond of citizenship." Ambach v. Norwick, 441 U.S. at 75. Under this standard, the classifications used need not be precise; there need only be a substantial fit. Our examination of the California scheme convinces us that it is sufficiently tailored to withstand a facial challenge.
The general requirements, including citizenship, for all California peace officers are found in Cal.Gov't Code Ann. [p443] §1031 (West 1980). That section, however, does not designate any particular official as a peace officer; rather, Cal. Penal Code Ann. §830 (West Supp. 1981) lists the specific occupations that fall within the general category of "peace officer." Even a casual reading of the Penal Code makes clear that the unifying character of all categories of peace officers is their law enforcement function. Specific categories are defined by either their geographical jurisdiction or the specific substantive laws they have the responsibility to enforce. Thus, not surprisingly, the first categories listed include police officers at the county, city, and district levels. §830.1. This is followed by various categories of police power authorized by the State, e.g., highway patrol officers, the state police, and members of the California National Guard when ordered into active service. §830.2. After this, the statute includes a long list of particular officers with responsibility for enforcement of different substantive areas of the law, e.g., individuals charged with enforcement of the alcoholic beverage laws, the food and drug laws, fire laws, and the horse racing laws. § 830.3. Finally, there are several catchall provisions that include some officers with narrow geographic responsibilities -- e.g., park rangers, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District police, harbor police, community college police, security officers of municipal utility districts, and security officers employed in government buildings -- and some with narrow "clientele" -- e.g., welfare fraud or child support investigators, correctional officers, parole and probation officers. §§830.31-830.6.
Although some of these categories may have only a tenuous connection to traditional police functions of law enforcement, the questionable classifications are comparatively few in number. [n10] The general law enforcement character of all [p444] California "peace officers" is underscored by the fact that all have the power to make arrests, § 836, and all receive a course of training in the exercise of their respective arrest powers and in the use of firearms. § 832. Foley made clear that a State may limit the exercise of the sovereign's coercive police powers over the members of the community to citizens. The California statutes at issue here are an attempt to do just that. They are sufficiently tailored in light of that aim to pass the lower level of scrutiny we articulated as the appropriate equal protection standard for such an exercise of sovereign power in Sugarman. [n11]
The District Court also held that the citizenship requirement was invalid as applied to the positions at issue here -- deputy probation officers. In reaching this conclusion, it focused too narrowly on a comparison of the characteristics and functions of probation officers with those of the state troopers at issue in Foley and the teachers in Ambach. Foley and Ambach did not describe the outer limits of permissible citizenship requirements. For example, although both of those cases emphasized the community-wide responsibilities of teachers and police, there was no suggestion that judges, who deal only with a narrow subclass of the community, cannot be subject to a citizenship requirement. See Sugarman, 413 U.S. at 647. Similarly, although both Foley and Ambach emphasized the unsupervised discretion that must be exercised by the teacher and the police officer in the performance of their duties, neither case suggested that jurors, who act under a very specific set of instructions, could not be required to be citizens. See Perkins v. Smith, 370 F.Supp. [p445] 134 (Md 1974), summarily aff'd, 426 U.S. 913 (1976). Definition of the important sovereign functions of the political community is necessarily the primary responsibility of the representative branches of government, subject to limited judicial review. [n12]
Looking at the functions of California probation officers, we conclude that they, like the state troopers involved in Foley, sufficiently partake of the sovereign's power to exercise coercive force over the individual that they may be limited to citizens. Although the range of individuals over whom probation officers exercise supervisory authority is limited, the [p446] powers of the probation officer are broad with respect to those over whom they exercise that authority. [n13] The probation officer has the power both to arrest, Cal.Penal Code Ann. §§ 830.5, 836, 1203.2 (West Supp.1981); Cal.Civ.Proc.Code Ann. § 131.4 (West 1954); and to release those over whom he has jurisdiction. Cal.Penal Code Ann. § 1203.1a (West Supp.1981). He has the power and the responsibility to supervise probationers and insure that all the conditions of probation are met and that the probationer accomplishes a successful reintegration into the community. Cal.Penal Code Ann. § 1203.1 (West Supp.1981). With respect to juveniles, the probation officer has the responsibility to determine whether to release or detain offenders, Cal.Welf. & Inst.Code Ann. § 628 (West Supp.1981), and whether to institute judicial proceedings or take other supervisory steps over the minor. §§ 630, 653-654. In carrying out these responsibilities, the probation officer necessarily has a great deal of discretion that, just like that of the police officer and the teacher, must be exercised, in the first instance, without direct supervision:
Because the probation or parole officer's function is not so much to compel conformance to a strict code of behavior as to supervise a course of rehabilitation, he has been entrusted traditionally with broad discretion to judge the progress of rehabilitation in individual cases, and has [p447] been armed with the power to recommend, or even to declare, revocation.
Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778, 784 (1973).
One need not take an overly idealistic view of the educational functions of the probation officer during this period to recognize that the probation officer acts as an extension of the judiciary's authority to set the conditions under which particular individuals will lead their lives, and of the executive's authority to coerce obedience to those conditions. [n14] From the perspective of the probationer, his probation officer may personify the State's sovereign powers; from the perspective of the larger community, the probation officer may symbolize the political community's control over, and thus responsibility for, those who have been found to have violated the norms of social order. From both of these perspectives, a citizenship requirement may seem an appropriate limitation on those who would exercise and, therefore, symbolize this power of the political community over those who fall within its jurisdiction.
Therefore, the judgment of the District Court is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
1. One of the appellees, Chavez-Salido, subsequently became a citizen. By that time, however, there were no longer any openings for the job he had previously been denied on the grounds of his noncitizenship. Appellees, at the time they applied for the positions in question, were all lawfully present, resident aliens. Therefore, we do not consider, and intimate no opinion about, any limits the Constitution may place upon state action directed at aliens who are here without the permission of the Federal Government or who, if legally here, are not residents of the State.
2. Under the California statute, the kinds of responsibilities of deputy probation officers are the same as those of probation officers, and both are considered "peace officers." Cal.Penal Code Ann. § 830.5 (West Supp.1981). This opinion, therefore, will refer simply to "probation officers" in discussing the positions at issue.
3. The third appellee, Bohorquez, claimed only that he failed to appeal a test score that disqualified him because he had been informed that, without citizenship, an appeal would be useless. As relief in this suit, Bohorquez sought only an opportunity to take a new examination.
4. Although the individual defendants did not contest the jurisdiction of the federal court, the county did. In their complaint, appellees waived any claim against the county under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 -- the complaint was filed before this Court's decision in Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), which held that such an action could be brought against a county. Appellees argued, and the District Court agreed, that they did have a claim against the county directly under the Fourteenth Amendment and under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 with jurisdiction in the Federal District Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a) because there was more than $10,000 in controversy. In its second opinion, the District Court readopted its earlier jurisdictional holdings and declined to release appellees from their previous waiver of a possible claim against the county under § 1983. Given our resolution of the merits, and because jurisdiction over the individual defendants is clear, we need not evaluate or otherwise accept the District Court's jurisdictional findings with respect to the county.
5. Congress has since limited the availability of three-judge courts, The Three-Judge Court Amendments of 1976, Pub.L. 94-381, 90 Stat. 1119. This case, however, is not affected by those changes, which do not apply to actions commenced before the date of the new statute's enactment.
6. At times, the dissent seems to imply that our cases do not establish a two-tiered standard of review -- e.g., "[Sugarman] did not condone a looser standard for review of classifications barring aliens from ‘political jobs.'" Post at 453. At other times, however, the dissent explicitly refers to the "Sugarman exception" as requiring
[l]ess demanding scrutiny . . . for statutes deriving from "a State's historical power to exclude aliens from participation in its democratic political institutions."
Post at 456.
7. The full quotation from Sugarman is as follows:
"[E]ach State has the power to prescribe the qualifications of its officers and the manner in which they shall be chosen." Boyd v. Nebraska ex rel. Thayer, 143 U.S. 135, 161 (1892). See Luther v. Borden, 7 How. 1, 41 (1849); Pope v. Williams, 193 U.S. 621, 632-633 (1904). Such power inheres in the State by virtue of its obligation, already noted above, "to preserve the basic conception of a political community." Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. at 344. And this power and responsibility of the State applies, not only to the qualifications of voters, but also to persons holding state elective or important nonelective executive, legislative, and judicial positions, for officers who "participate directly in the formulation, execution, or review of broad public policy perform functions that go to the heart of representative government."
413 U.S. at 647. This language is far-reaching, and no limits on it were suggested by Sugarman itself: almost every governmental official can be understood as participating in the execution of broad public policies. The limits on this category within which citizenship is relevant to the political community are not easily defined, but our cases since Sugarman -- Foley v. Connelie, 435 U.S. 291 (1978), and Ambach v. Norwick, 441 U.S. 68 (1979) -- suggest that this Court will not look to the breadth of policy judgments required of a particular employee. Rather, the Court will look to the importance of the function as a factor giving substance to the concept of democratic self-government.
8. Both the District Court and the parties mistakenly refer to this argument as one based on the constitutional doctrine of "overbreadth." "Overbreadth" is a doctrine of standing applicable in certain First Amendment cases and under which litigants may assert the rights of others not presently before the court. See Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. 601, 611-615 (1973). Appellees do not claim to be asserting the constitutional rights of others; rather, they claim that California denies them the equal protection of the laws because the restriction is so overinclusive that it destroys the State's asserted justification.
9. It is worth noting, however, that, of the categories mentioned by the District Court, toll-service employees, inspectors of the Bureau of Livestock, and cemetery sextons were all eliminated from coverage by amendments to Cal.Penal Code Ann.§ 830.4 (West Supp.1981), passed in 1980. 1980 Cal.Stats., ch. 1340, p. 4724, § 12, effective Sept. 30, 1980.
10. The dissent specifically questions only four positions. Post at 455, n. 7. Three of these -- Dental Board Inspectors, Parks and Recreation Department employees, and voluntary fire wardens -- are designated "peace officers" only when their "primary duty" is law enforcement. See Cal.Penal Code Ann. §§ 830.3(b), (c), (j) (West Supp. 1980).
11. The dissent accuses the Court of holding that the law enforcement character of some of the covered positions justifies application of the citizenship restriction to unrelated positions. Post at 455. We indicate no opinion as to whether noncitizen applicants for other positions could successfully challenge the statute as applied to them.
12. Appellees also argue that the statute is facially invalid because it is impermissibly underinclusive. The District Court did not consider this contention, and the only argument advanced by appellees in support of this claim is that California fails to impose a citizenship requirement upon its public school teachers. Brief for Appellees 29. At various points, the dissent also relies upon the alleged underinclusiveness of the statute.
Although there is some language in Sugarman indicating that such an argument is appropriate, 413 U.S. at 640, 642, and that a statutory exclusion of aliens from a particular form of public employment will be evaluated in light of the entire framework of public employment positions open and closed to aliens, clearly our subsequent cases have not adopted that position. Thus, in both Foley and Ambach, only the specific governmental functions directly at issue were considered. Underinclusiveness arguments were relevant in Sugarman because there the classification involved -- the competitive civil service -- swept in a wide variety of governmental functions. Such a sweeping and apparently indiscriminate categorization raises legitimate questions of arbitrariness that are not raised when the State limits a particular and important governmental function -- e.g., coercive police power -- to citizens. When we deal with such a specific category, underinclusiveness arguments are relevant only within the category: are there, for example, individuals who exercise the State's coercive police power that are not required to be citizens? In this respect, the California statutory scheme is not substantially underinclusive: Cal.Penal Code Ann. § 830.7 (West Supp.1981) lists only two categories of positions which have the power to arrest but are not "peace officers" -- and therefore are not subject to the citizenship requirement -- security officers at institutions of higher education and certain individuals designated by a cemetery authority.
13. Measuring the scope of community contacts is more difficult than it may appear. Although the probation officer has responsibility for only a relatively small part of the community, in exercising that responsibility, the probation officer necessarily comes in contact with a much broader section of the community. His supervisory responsibilities will bring him into contact with many of those with whom those under his supervision must interact -- e.g., employers, teachers, landlords, and family. In this respect, he is very much like a policeman, who exercises his coercive authority over a small class of individuals but carries out his responsibilities through interactions with a much larger segment of the community.
14. Thus, we do not find compelling the statistics presented by amicus Service Employees International Union, and cited by appellees at oral argument, Tr. of Oral Arg. 40, which indicate that, because of a growing caseload, the time a probation officer has to spend with any individual offender may be minimal.